Idaho has serious gaps in representation for children involved in protective services cases, according to a report by the Office of Performance Evaluation. The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee received the lengthy report at a hearing last week, the Idaho Falls Post Register reports; you can read the full story here.
“Gaps exist in Idaho’s system of representation for children and youth in child protection cases,” the report found. “We found a portion of children and youth did not have any type of court-appointed representation.” OPE evaluators looked in detail at 207 cases, a sample of the roughly 3,300 statewide child protection cases in 2017. In roughly a third of those cases, children involved in a child protective services case, which often results in the removal of a child from their parents’ home, didn’t receive the representation of either a guardian ad litem (a court-appointed advocate) or a public defender.
Idaho law requires all children to receive such representation, and OPE found that without it, children are less likely to find permanent placement or to have an effective voice in child protection cases.